This story is “as old as dirt” but I still like it!
A man visited a church one Sunday that was a more formal and liturgical church than he was used to attending. The church was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. That made it all the more obvious when this fellow got excited during the preacher’s sermon and shouted out “Praise the Lord!”
What was second nature to this visitor, stunned the members there who were not used to such exuberant expressions of worship.
After the preacher recovered from the shock, he began to get “fired up.” He said something else that “struck a cord” with this fellow who again exclaimed, “Praise the Lord!” Everyone looked around, wondering what to do.
After his emotions were once again touched and he responded the third time with, “Praise the Lord,” a deacon came down the aisle, tapped the guest on the shoulder, and in a reprimanding stage whisper said, “We don’t praise the Lord here!”
Our word of the week is “praise.”
This week at the Hickman Mills church where I preach we are having a special week in Song Worship Training directed by Tim Stevens. Yesterday we were encouraged and inspired by two fine lessons that admonished us to “praise the Lord.”
From Genesis to Revelation the word “praise” is used 237 times. Praise is frequently and specifically mentioned by the Psalmist. In fact, the expression “Praise the Lord” is used 37 times in the Psalms.
“I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. (Ps 7:17).
“Let them praise Your great and awesome name — He is holy.” (Ps 99:3)
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; (Ps 146:1-2)
One of the Hebrew words for “praise” is “Halal” From this we derive our English word “Hallelujah” It means “to celebrate, to sing, to glory. It literally means to boast. However, the object of boasting is not us, but God!
Gary Henry once observed, “While it is certain that we don’t praise God as we should, our problem is not simply a failure to praise Him; it is a failure to appreciate His WORTHINESS to be praised.”
Praise ascribes honor, glory and respect to Jehovah God. Psalms 111 speaks of why we praise God. We praise Him for His works in creation. For His guiding providence. For making man in his image. For the relationships He has provided. For who God is. His Holiness. Righteousness. Justice. And mercy!
Tim Stevens pointed out yesterday that praise is not just an outward act. Praise stems from who we are. The inner person. The heart. Like the ancient poet, we should exclaim, “Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart! (PS 11:1).
Tim also reminded us that praise can occur anywhere and at anytime. Obviously the assembly has always been an occasion of praise.
God was praised in the Old Testament assembly. “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. (PS 22:22). And, of course, praise is a part of New Testament worship. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. (Heb 2:12)
Praise may be in the form of singing. Prayer. Or verbal testimony to others of God’s goodness.
Praise may be individual as we ride to work.
Praise may occur in the family circle during our devotions.
Praise may be the center of youth devotions. Men’s prayer breakfasts. And Ladies’ luncheons.
Praise may spontaneously break out around a camp fire. Or watching a sunset on the beach. Or during a potluck dinner.
This week “Praise the Lord”! Constantly. Fervently. And passionately. “Praise the Lord!”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman